By MARINA WATERS
Boone Lake might have lowered its water level, but the Washington County Commission upped it’s financial support by approving $20,220 for the Boone Lake Homeowners Association to assist with the clean-up of the lake for one year only.
The funds will come from the $561,000 Tennessee Valley Authority economic impact dollars rewarded to the county. The BLHA requested $20,200 from Washington County, $10,000 from Johnson City and $30,000 from Sullivan County.
“We felt like it would be the right thing to do to use the money TVA had given us,” Commissioner and Health, Education and Welfare Committee chairman Tom Krieger said.
However, Commissioner Mike Ford voiced his concern with taking on funding the BLHA’s request.
“I have a problem if they’re not willing to fund it like they’ve done for years and years and years,” Ford said. “I have a problem using taxpayers’ dollars for that to fund something for them. Maybe I’m not seeing the full picture or something.”
At the HEW committee’s Nov. 2 meeting, BLA board member Ron Siegfried said of the over 2,000 people who own property on the lake, the largest membership number the group ever had was 630 members. Krieger said that at one time, the property owners were contributing roughly $60,000 a year, but that with the lake being so low, that isn’t the case anymore.
“They have about 200 that are funding that right now,” Krieger said.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Skip Oldham mentioned that the TVA funds come from rate payers rather than tax payers.
“The citizens that pay taxes, that’s not where this money is coming from,” Oldham said. “It’s from people who are buying the power. That is where they got the money to give this to the cities and counties. As difficult as it is a pill to swallow, (BLHA) have certainly got good grounds to ask for it.”
Apart from the TVA impact dollars, Commissioner and Chairman Greg Matherly told the commission he and Washington County Sheriff Ed Graybeal discovered a state grant that could also come into play. Matherly said the grant is dated for January 31, 2018.
Of the county commission, 18 were in favor while Commissioners Sam Humphreys, Robbie McGuire and Pat Wolfe were opposed.